The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has revealed a stunning close-up shot of the asteroid Ryugu captured by its Hayabusa-2 spacecraft.
Here you can see the image of the asteroid from just six kilometers (3.72 miles) away. One pixel in the image is around 60 centimeters (1.9 feet).
Here’s the full image:
A massive crater can be seen near the center of the image. According to JAXA, this is the largest crater on the surface of the asteroid, Ryugu.
Hayabusa2 will eventually try to sample the asteroid’s surface. This is not an easy feat. Asteroids have weak, complex gravitational fields, as well as dusty and rocky surfaces.
The JAXA scientists are working on where to land in order to best collect a sample of Ryugu, for the spacecraft to bring back to Earth. They are moving very carefully and the attempt is likely still several months away.